How often does your infusion set fail?

Hi. I'm a new pumper, about 1 month so far. So, I've used about 12 infusion sets so far, but 2 have failed already. What I mean by fail is that the insulin does not get absorbed, my BG continues to rise, and I'm forced to take it out and insert a new one.

I'm using the Inset 6mm/23"tube, which is pretty standard from what I've read. I'm 170 with a enough fat around my stomach that this should not be an issue. I also don't have any noticeable scarring from MDI.

Having the infusion set fail has been very stressful for me. How often is failure normal for everyone else?


I started with Insets, and had a nearly 50% failure rate — I could never tell if they were inserted correctly because of the insertion device. Switched to manual insertion ss sets (contact detach) and am doing much better. I was also having trouble with the cannulas getting bent if I had the set anywhere near my ribs — maybe the cannula was too long, I don't know.

I know what you mean about the stress of it. I was shocked at how fast I got really sick when my set failed, and I'm someone who in 40 years of type one diabetes has only had DKA once.

My advice is to trade them in for something that you trust. Most suppliers will send you samples to try out. That's how I found out about the Contact sets.

I’ve been pumping for 7 months and use the same insets. I’ve had about 4 failures but had more changes due to needless worrying about an incorrect insertion. Overall I’m pretty satisfied, but it is stressful to worry about on those change days. It’s the first ones I tried, so sampling others may be in my future as well.

I started on a pump about a year ago (I'm T1, diagnosed 30 yrs ago, so I've been through a number of treatment regimes). I had a LOT of trouble with mystery high BGs over the first couple of months. I take it that's what you're experiencing, as opposed to getting the dreaded "NON-DELIVERY" warning from your pump? One thing I found really maddening is the business of getting all the bubbles out of the reservoir when you're filling it. A number of times I've been absolutely sure I got 'em all, only to see voids in the tube later on, and I did figure out that that's where some of my problems were coming from early on. There are a lot of failure points in the system, but all this stuff seems to have settled down as I've gotten more accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of pump management (though I've had two "Non-delivery" failures while changing to new sets in the last month--pump just couldn't fill the tube).

I think part of my problem as a long-term well-controlled T1 was my own expectations of how long it would take to get adjusted to pumping. My frustration level got pretty high as a process I thought might take a couple of weeks stretched into a couple of months.

I'm still not finding it to be as predictable and efficient a system as some people seem to experience, but on balance I'm glad I've stuck with it.

I agree with the last post about finding a type of tubing that you trust. I personally use 9mm, because I do have a bit of extra fat around my midsection. I have heard some nurses mention in the diabetic center that scarring can occur if the sites are not rotated enough. I have though about using my legs occasionally, especially when I start having kids...good luck

I am new to pumping too (not quite a month) I have had 3 non-deliveries and MUCH stress on the days it is time to change the infusion set. I switched from the Quick set to the Sure-T. I hope this helps. I am 58 years old, type 1, and have only been diagnosed for 10 months. Last week I was admitted to hospital with DKA AGAIN. When diagnosed I had a BG of 1141. They didn't think I would live. I count carbs, keep meals around 45 carbs. Surely this will get better. Encouragement needed.

Hi Yeagen. I'm 58 as well, T1 for 30 years. Welcome to the club no one wants to join!

It sounds like you're basically doing the right thing, so don't give up yet. My own frustration level got really high at the start, so I sympathize. Non-deliveries are annoying as heck, but one of the most insidious things is not getting all the air bubbles out of the reservoir when you're loading it up. You end up having voids in the tubing and the system "thinks" it's delivering insulin that's not actually there. I had a lot of trouble with that. I make sure to let the vial warm up for 30 min. before changing sets, which is a pain, but it seems to help.

There's also the fact that the Dr's tend to be very cautious and incremental about getting your basal rates dialed in--with a mechanical device dosing you continuously it's easy to get in trouble and lows are more dangerous in the immediate term than the highs. So it can take a while before you get the whole thing tuned to your metabolism.

There are lots of good people on this site you can chat with as well. I've found it one of the more helpful and supportive communities I've tried. Good luck and keep us posted on how it's going!

Thank you DrBB for the encouragement. I am enjoying this site. I am not sure what all the abbreviations in people's posts stand for.

I wouldn't mind if someone posted a list of the common abbreviations around here myself. I can usually puzzle them out after a while but a few have had me scratching my head. Maybe we can ping the moderators about that.

Pump-wise, I think it took at least six weeks, maybe a bit more, for me to feel like I was finally getting on top of it.

"I wouldn't mind if someone posted a list of the common abbreviations around here..."

And then I looked and sure enough someone did, though I had to hunt a bit:

I have been pumping for 4 years now and have had beginner's problems for the first 1 1 /2 years, maybe I am a klutz, and wasn't dexterous enough to do it correctly.
Normally I have a failure (that the needle/cannula) goes in crooked most of the time but it only happened once every three or four months. Lately I have had it every 2nd time I change out my set on regular 3 day schedule. The times I have trouble, I change the QuickSet, then my BG goes up to 200 or higher, so I wait for a 2nd or 3rd BG reading, then change the set only, not the insulin and then if it still continues and I am sure that my insulin is still good & not degraded, I insert a 3rd Quickset(not using the tubing, just the insert part. I am going nuts trying to figure out why this is happening and even with basl and insulin sensitivity changes, it still occurs. I use the 6mm/23 also.

I was having pretty regular site problems (and perhaps sometimes just assuming that was responsible for a high) until I switched to manually inserted steel sets (contact detach for animas). I haven't had any site problems since, and if one is painful I just pull it out, reinsert it elsewhere and tape it down. No waste. I'm a convert! (Oh and they are super easy to insert and not particularly painful).

I have quite a few instances where about half way thru day 3 my sugars start rising and when bolusing doesn’t work I change my site. For a while I did site changes every two days and did much better. But, of course, insurance doesn’t want to pay for that many infusion sets so I am back to every 3 days. It happens, all part of the fun.

I used steel sets for a while but didn’t like the tail when I disconnected. I like to disconnect right at the site. How do yours work? With or without the tail?

My insertion set fails about once a month. Usually it is a bent cannula and I don't know it until I have high Blood sugars, so I try to make the BGs go down for 1/2 a day, then re-do with a new insertion set, but use the insulin already in the the reservoir. Sometimes I have a painful insertion site, so I wait to see if my BGs are ok and then ignore it, unless it is really Painful, then I change it. Once in a while I hit a vein, so it can block the flow of insulin into the tissue, too. It is a bit of working things out.
If you need to talk to the Medtronic rep who should be in your area to have a free consultation about your sites and absorption problems. Call the main phone # and ask for the rep for where you live. If you don't use a Medtronic pump, just look up the corp phone # for your brand. They have been really responsive to me.
My first year was like your first month. A lot of fubling with the mechanics of the sets.

Quite often in the beginning until I got the hang of insertion. Less often, but still pretty regularly thereafter. Almost never since I switched to manual insertion metal sets. It is occasionally painful, but then I just pull it out, put it in somewhere else and tape it down, so I don't consider it a failure.

Hi, Anthony,
My infusion sets fail about once to 4 times a month. Either the cannula gets bent, I hit a vein and the insulin ca't flow properly or there is some unknown factor that lets my blood sugar go high and I just change out the whole thing, first the site, then if that doesn't make it do down, I do the whole new tubing and new insulin w/vial.
Then there might be a few months w/no problems!